BUILD AND DESIGN
Easily shirt pocket portable, the FX75 fits the deck of cards/pack of cigarettes size template that defines so many compact digitals with zooms less than 10x. The body is metal and our review unit had a matte black finish with bright silver accents (a silver body is also available in the U.S.). The camera seems well built.
Ergonomics and Controls
The FX75 is pretty much shaped the same as virtually every standard zoom compact digital - the rectangular body is a bit rounded on the ends and edges and promotes a grip with fingers atop and below the body. The focus assist lamp is located at the upper left front of the body and invites obscuration by the fingers of the left hand should they stray from the camera top.
This Panasonic point-and-shoot breaks from the pack with a control layout that defines simplicity. The on/off switch, shutter button/zoom lever and motion picture capture button sit atop the body; a record/playback switch, mode and menu buttons stack vertically to the right of the monitor on the rear. The camera even has a touch shutter feature that can bypass the shutter button in the capture process - more about that later. The menu and mode buttons get you to the touch screen and the record/playback setting determines what is presented once you arrive. Here's the startup screen with the camera set in record mode.
And here's what the menu and mode buttons produce from this point.
Menus and Modes
As you can see above, pushing the menu button with the camera in record mode and "normal picture" gets you the first page of a four page menu with a total of eighteen settings. Included on this screen are small icons at the lower left that allow you to select menus for motion pictures or camera setup. Here's what the first page of those respective menus look like.
If the camera had been set for intelligent Auto, a push of the menu button would have delivered this result - a single page menu with only four settings.
Selecting menu with the camera in the high dynamic option of the scene shooting mode gets you this first page of a three page menu - menu size and content may vary from scene to scene.
Back when we first got the startup screen there was a small "disp" icon at the lower right corner of the screen - if we pushed it we would have gotten this screen.
Had the camera been set for intelligent Auto instead of normal picture, the screen would have looked like this.
Pushing the quick menu icon in the lower left of the display for intelligent Auto produces this screen.
A slightly different screen would have appeared had the camera been in normal picture mode. Finally, there's a funny looking little icon next to the disp icon - this is the touch shutter enable/disable control. This feature is off by default and the icon is blue. Touching the icon enables the feature and the icon turns yellow.
Touch Shutter Off
Touch Shutter On
From this point, wherever the user next touches the screen establishes a focus point and fires the shutter.
Navigating the menus is really quite easy and intuitive - after all there aren't that many external controls and once you get to the touch screen things just seem to naturally fall into place.
There are five primary shooting modes, but no manual exposure controls:
The 3.0-inch monitor has a 230,000-dot composition with automatic and manual bright illumination options. The screen can be hard to use in bright outdoor conditions in either mode for image composition and capture or playback - touch screen menus were sufficiently bright and legible - and the buildup of fingerprints on the screen due to touch operations only makes matters worse.
Any screen can be difficult to use in bright outdoor conditions, but the FX75 seemed a bit more difficult to see than on average. Panasonic provides a silver-dollar sized plastic stylus that may be used to select touch screen functions in addition to using the fingers, but the stylus can be easily misplaced if not attached to the camera. I attached the stylus via the camera wrist strap, but the camera had to be taken off the wrist to use the stylus, so the fingers did the bulk of the work. Coverage is about 100%. Carry a lens cloth for frequent cleanings of the screen.
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